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Lawrence Olivier as Richard III and Utpal Dutt

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by ojaantrik, Feb 22, 2010.

  1. ojaantrik

    ojaantrik IL Hall of Fame

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    I have always been a great fan of Lawrence Olivier. My favourite amongst his Shakespearean soliloquies is the opening sequence from the film version of the play Richard III.

    The soliloquy as it was written for the original play was remarkable enough. However, in Olivier's production, he came out with a longer version, picking up bits and pieces from other plays where the Duke of Gloucester appears. It was Gloucester who gets hold of the throne later and is anointed King Richard III.

    He killed everyone he could to reach his goal and was finally destroyed himself. Olivier came out with one of his greatest performances in the play, making you wonder if the man was a complete villain or not.

    In this starting soliloquy, he describes the physical defects he was born with and the plans that he was slowly forming to grab the crown. The soliloquy is interrupted halfway through and you get to hear Claire Bloom's voice (in the role of Lady Anne). Her husband was the Prince of Wales, a good man in Gloucester's own words, whom he killed to make sure that they don't have children to lay claim to the throne of England.

    Here is a short excerpt from the soliloquy: I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks/Nor made to court an amorous looking glass/I that am rudely stampled and want love's majesty/To strut before a wanton ambling nymph/I, that am curtail'd of this fair proportion/Cheated of feature by dissembling nature/Deformed, unfinish'd, sent before my time/Into this breathing world, scarce half made up/And that so lamely and unfashionable/That dogs bark at me as I halt by them ...

    Here is how he made himself look for the role:


    olivier_kingrichard.jpg


    You can hear the entire speech as he delivered it here:​



    This last one is a Word file where I have indicated the internet address where I have loaded my recording of the speech myself. I could not use the IL attachment tool, since it doesn't allow MP3 files that are more than 1 mb long. This particular speech and the conversation with Lady Anne is around 13 mb in size. ​

    I am not supposed to put up links to sites here. This is why, I used a service called yousendit. It allows you to send large files and stores it for your downloading for 7 days at most. It permits a maximum of 100 downloads. It is not a blog site, it's simply a service provider's server. I have found this service very useful in the past. Even to put up Rabindrasangeet sung by Mrs. Savitri Krishnan at IL. However, if you do not want to download it, I will not misunderstand. ​

    I recall a day in the distant past (1958, if I recall correctly) when, as a student of Class X, I went to watch this movie with my classmates, 'chaperoned' by Mr. Utpal Dutt himself. Mr. Dutt taught us English and what I got for him will remain an unforgettable experience. He has still not turned to professional acting. He insisted that the school arrange this trip for us. It was Lighthouse Theatre where the film was running and the theatre used to be a proud landmark for the Calcutta of yore. ​

    Mr. Dutt, I believe strongly, wanted me to choose acting as my future career even at that tender age. When the show was over, he looked at me and smiled as he said, "Well! Do you think you can ever act this way?" I smiled back goofishly and said nothing. I was sure that my parents would commit suicide if I turned to acting. ​

    Many years later, around 1992-93 I think, I was waiting for a flight to Delhi at Kolkata Airport and my son had come to see me off. Suddenly, I noticed Mr. Dutt sitting in a corner, waiting presumably for his own flight. I pointed him out to my son. He was all excited and wanted me to walk over and speak to Mr. Dutt. I hesitated. He was too famous an actor now and I was an unknown, stupid professor of economics at the Indian Statistical Institute. But my son wouldn't listen. ​

    So, somewhat reluctantly, I approached him and introduced myself. To my surprise, he recognized me immediately and asked me what I was doing. I told him. And I almost perceived an expression of disappointment on his face. "Ah, I see, you teach do you," said he. He knew I think that I was not an actor, or else we would have surely met once in a while. But he still did a bit of acting to drive home the point. What he did not approve in me I reckon was the lack of an adventerous spirit. It was too risky to go for the acting profession. A regular job, however mediocre, was what simple folks went for. We chatted a little and he said that his flight to Mumbai, where he was headed for a film-shooting session, had been delayed. He might have to put up at the Airport Hotel. He smiled, but it was clear that there was not much that he had to say to me. So, thanking him, I took my leave. ​

    As I started walking away, I heard his loud voice telling his daughter sitting next to him, "I had used him to play Napoleon Bonaparte." I turned back abruptly as I heard this. He was staring at me with a broad grin on his face, but it was a strange kind of a grin, one that made it clear that he was not interested in speaking to me any longer. He even raised his right arm and bid me good bye. The play that he was referring to was a comedy called Napoleon and the Tramp by Ervine, St John. ​

    This was the last time I found an opportunity speak to him. My son was greatly elated, needless to say.

    Someday, I'll tell you about our first meeting. :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2010
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  2. Tubelight

    Tubelight Bronze IL'ite

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    Hi Oj Da !
    Logged in just now and saw your new post .
    How wonderful that you were acquainted with that great actor Utpal Dutt ! If he thought you had theater in you, it must have had a good basis. You should have given it a more serious thought ! Who knows, you'd've rivalled him in his chosen field. I know a career in acting would not have gone down well with parents of that era, but there's always a chance that they would have come to appreciate you merits later, if not sooner .

    I have heard my father and father-in-law go into raptures about Olivier's talent. I myself have seen only some snatches of his theatrics in You Tube and other shared sites. I'm sure it takes tremendous talent to simultaneously deliver the bard's l-o-n-g passages ,without making a mish mash of the essence, AND to emote with suitable facial and body language. It takes a special frame of mind to watch these excellent performances. Its certainly not for casual viewing which I am afraid I'm getting used to at present. Being mother of an active primary school kid addicted to cartoon shows does give one the Attention Deficit Syndrome !
    The link is still loading, (i have a slow connection), so I thought i will just go ahead and post a response first !

    But why would Mr. Dutt not have wanted to speak to you any longer ? Was the Star in him acting up ? I hope not !
     
  3. ojaantrik

    ojaantrik IL Hall of Fame

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    @ TL

    That reminds me. There is a utube version of this soliloquy too. But you are not supposed to put up site addresses at IL.

    I think your last line has an element of truth in it. He did not wish to recall his school teacher past anymore as far as I could make out. But the teacher in him did influence me a lot. For example, I am not camera shy for TV shows or my public lectures, something I must have learnt from him. Incidentally, NewsX, Delhi will have a live show from 9.30 - 10 PM tonight, with me interacting from Kolkata. Two more on the 23rd and the 25th, same time. You can watch it over internet(wwwdotnewsxdotcom).

    All the best.

    oj-da
     
  4. Kamalji

    Kamalji IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear OJ,

    i had read u earlier where u had mentioned Utpal Dutt as yr teacher.Oliver i dontknow much about him, but that he was a class actor, and i think i have seen one movie of his, Sleuth, maybe, long ago, was it with Micheal Caine ? not sure.

    Utpal dutt was class.look at his comdedy in Gol Maal, and his villanish role in Amanush, and so many other movies, he was just too good.Hardl any great looks, but what acting really.

    Superb blog, and i feel sad, about the meeting of u two.Yes maybe he did not wantt o be reminded of his past as a teacher.

    This is with most people.So many friends of mine, i have seen them rising, and when over drinks i mention those old times, they are wanting to change the subject fast.one even told me , not to talk of the past.

    For me, i am proud of my past, i too was broke at one time, and i dont feel annoyed ever, it was a part of me, and will remain a part of me always, what is there to feel bad about.

    And i will watch u tonight, i have that channel, and see in person what OJ Da is like.And i will raise a toast to u tongith my friend, and will tell Cheeniya to watch u too.So dont be too nervous knowing yr two friends are watching u.:biglaugh

    all the best OJ.Regards

    kamal
     
  5. ojaantrik

    ojaantrik IL Hall of Fame

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    @ kamalji

    Oh my God!! I did put my foot in the mouth. Thankfully, it's a short programme!! Today, they'll be discussing taxation. Tomorrow, same time will be on defence expenditure. 25th will be a shadow budget that NewsX prepared. But they are all short programmes. Nonetheless, I am worried now. I hope I don't behave too stupidly. I mean, I am stupid, but I don't want to look more studpid than I am.

    oj
     
  6. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    My dear OJ
    When it comes to looking stupid, I take the cake! So don't you worry! I'll join the toast with Kamal tonight!
    A FB for your new thread after watching Newsx!
    Love
    Sri
     
  7. Kamalji

    Kamalji IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear OJ

    Two pair of eyes will be watching u OJ, me and Cheeniya.So dont worry, u will be brilliant as usual.

    You know i have one stupid theroy of taxation.i will tell u anyway.

    I feel stick is not the method to make people pay taxes.
    i feel carrot is the way.
    I woulld foolishly wish as follows

    the more u show yr profits the less u pay.Strange eh !i have told this to many, but no one seems to understand the mind of this uneducated person, but it worth hearing at least.

    Suppose rioghjt now we have 30% as the highest slab.
    the current mode is that, the moer u show the more u aer taxed, which temptes a guy earning say a 100 crores to fudge and show just say 10% of it, say 10 crores and pay tax on it, and the balance is all black.

    Now here is my idea to tempt this fellow to willingly show everything.

    So i propose the following taxation

    To get thje small fies in the net, upto 10 ten lakhs, keep the same rate, so at 10 lakhs u pay 30%.

    Now say 10 to 25 lakhs , the rate dips to 25%
    25 to 1 crore - 20%
    1 cr to 5 cr - 15%
    5 t0 10 cr - 10%
    anything above 10 crores , flat 5% tax

    Now to reach the level of 5%, u have to cross all the previous levels, and the richie rich guys, would at times even show inflated incomes to be able to take advantage of teh 5% levels

    this way , most of the money, will eb shown as white, for 5% is very negligible rate.

    Crazy idea, but i know , even if u have the higest level fo say 15% taxes, still people will hide, for everyone likes to evade, but whenu are rewarded , u will yourself reach deep into yr own pockets to pay.

    And another thing.For anyone showing say a 5% increase every year, in his income, will not be subjected to scrutiny.

    And what if the Income Tax people give some dialmond card , or silver cards to various categoiries of tax payers, so when u flash that card in a restaurant or to an airline, they show immediate respect for u, for they know u are a good taxpayer.It will make u feel proud to be a taxpayer, ublike now.

    And for the good category say the diamond category card, the tax payer will get a discount in a restaurant, say a 5% or so, in an airticket, preference for a train ticket over others etc etc, and that differnce, the govt pays the hotel or the airline.

    This will make everyone come clean and yearn for these cards, and mone y will just flow in the govt coffers, and we will be again the land of milk and honey.

    God knows but this has been on my mind since long, and i also know it is no where else in this world, so why here?

    Tempt people to be honest,and i am sure, most people will take the bait, as a fish takes the worm.:biglaugh

    Regards

    kamal
     
  8. Mindian

    Mindian IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear oj da

    I am not much acquainted with Lawrence olivier but have watched Rebecca and A bridge too far.

    But oh yes,I am a great fan of Utpal Dutt.Even his villainous roles had a touch of comedy in them, and I just loved him in Amanush, golmaal and shaukeen. You are indeed lucky to have interacted with him. Somehow I do think that Calcutta has contributed a lot to good cinema and has produced many geniuses .I am sure you missed your calling there. Given your penchant for perfection and love for theatre I am sure you would have made a great name for yourself. But then we might never have known you. So, all is for the BEST.:)

    I do not get any of those channels here and may not be able to watch it on the internet too as it will be late night. Is there any chance that the webcast will be repeated?
     
  9. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    My dear OJ
    By calling yourself a great fan of Sir Lawrence Olivier, I can understand that you are a great connoisseur of vintage English cinema. His Shakespearean mooring gives him a sheen that no English actor has ever been able to match. I would rank the greats like Sir Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole only after Sir Lawrence. It is interesting that Peter O’Toole was shaped by Sir Lawrence and Peter had a big break in Hamlet which was directed by Sir Lawrence.

    One can go on eulogizing about Sir Lawrence but I must point out that the film mentioned by Kamal is one of my all time favorites. “Sleuth” starring Maichel Caine and Sir Lawrence is a film that I can see any number of times. These two giants of English cinema vie with each other for the acting honours and the entire film features only these two characters.
    I just listened to the enthralling soliloquy of 14 minutes of Sir Lawrence which kept me spellbound. It took me several minutes to travel back to my mundane existence of the present day. Sir Lawrence may not match the much acclaimed voice of James Mason but his delivery took him to great heights. When I heard this soliloquy, I could see how closely Peter O’Toole had followed the footsteps of his erudite Shakespearean teacher.

    Utpal Dutt!

    He was an eminent son of Bengal who truly belonged to the entire country. Be it a villainous role or a comic one, he towered over the rest. Take Basu Chatterjee’s classic Shaukeen which featured him along with Ashok Kumar and Hangal. He evoked more laughter in that movie than the other two giants! Starting from the legendary Satyajit Ray, every Bengali Director of fame has handled him and brought out the best in him, not that he required anyone to bring out the best in him! He was a Director’s delight but it is my personal opinion that Mrinal Sen had a special equation with him.

    And you, my dear OJ, have it in you to outshine others in whatever profession you might have pursued. Utpal Dutt with his keen eye might have seen a great actor in you but unfortunately, acting and politics are two avenues which are looked down upon as a profession. No parent in his right mind would have agreed to let his ward pursue any of them. At this stage, it is difficult to say if you would have made a better actor than an Economist but I can say this much that as an actor you would have been out of bounds for all of us. I must thank your parents for their great insight!

    As I was writing this, Kamal rang me and reminded me of Newsx. The programme was just starting and I could get a glimpse of you for the first time. I do not want to say things like you look every inch an economist. But I was happy that you were not formally attired, suited and booted. You looked refreshingly different in your green shirt and every inch the man next door. I liked your take on how corruption affected our tax machinery both in the collection and spending. It was a bit surprising that the break came at that stage and on resumption, this point was not discussed!

    While on the subject of taxation, you may have read what our in-house taxation genius Kamal had to say about it. I would like to know what a seasoned economist like you has to say about it. Do you think that Kamal is good material for a Finance Minister? You’ll be happy to know that Kamal and I drank a toast to you as promised. May you live a long and healthy life and keep us laughing in mirth!
    Love
    Sri
     
  10. Tubelight

    Tubelight Bronze IL'ite

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    Hi Oj-da
    Just to say, I watched Dipankar Dasgupta, Economist, on News X just now. A suave avuncular Don, holding forth on corruption among citizens , honesty coefficient of taxpayers, the need to find ways to make the process less cumbersome , effortlessly reeling out statistics - 2.8% allocation for Health and literacy and 14% for Defense during last budget - interspersing the clipped, faintly British accent with very yankee "you know"s.
    :whistle Who is this ! Do I know him ?

    I can't reconcile myself to the fact that this serious, distinguished speaker is the same one who was rambling in the loo just the other day !

    Is this The Wizardry of Oj ?

    ( You may have made it your life's mission to be Grumpy, but aha ! I caught you smiling( well, it was an arrested, held back smile, but a smile nevertheless!) as you signed off with " people should at least be able to read the newspaper".:thumbsup Smile more, Mr.Economist, dont economise on that ! You look winsome when you smile.)
     

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